Following a meeting of the Christian Democrat leadership on Tuesday the
party's acting head Jan Kasal said the Christian Democrats did not
consider the term of the next general elections decisive in reaching
agreement on a new government. Mr. Kasal said his party was prepared to
take part in a coalition government and form a buffer between the two
strongest parties - the Civic and Social Democrats. We are prepared to
do this in the interest of stability in the Czech Republic - with or
without the Green Party, Mr. Kasal said.
The Christian Democrats will enter into the government talks ahead of a change of leadership at the party's national conference in December. There are already indications that the controversial Christian Democrat candidate for party chairman Jiri Cunek is now viewed as a potential partner in the talks. Senator Cunek who as mayor of Vsetin elicited both criticism and praise for his uncompromising stance towards Romany rent defaulters, is said to have met secretly with Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek to discuss under what conditions the Christian Democrats would enter into a coalition with the two strongest parties. Senator Cunek said his party might agree to participating in a pro-reform government with a year-long mandate.
A state attorney has stopped the prosecution of a police officer who was accused of beating up Green Party deputy Katerina Jacques during an anti-Nazi May Day protest. Mrs. Jacques was arrested in a skirmish after ignoring a police order to keep at a distance from a skinhead march. Mrs. Jacques said she was attacked and beaten for no reason and the officer in question, Tomas Cermak, was sacked and charged with abuse of public office. State Attorney Michal Zachystal on Monday shelved the case saying there were insufficient grounds for prosecution and that Cermak had proceeded in line with police regulations when performing the arrest. Mrs. Jacques said she would appeal.
Czech rival parties are making known their stands on early elections, ahead of this weeks government talks led by the Civic Democrats. The Green Party which had been pushing for early elections in 2007 on Tuesday softened its stand, saying that it would accept early elections in the spring of 2008 at the latest. Party leader Martin Bursik said that his party considered a shortened government mandate to be a top priority and only if that were satisfactory would he be prepared to discuss the division of power in the new coalition cabinet.
A secondary school in Prague has been forced to remove surveillance cameras from classrooms after students protested against invasion of privacy. The Josef Skvorecky Literary Academy had cameras installed all over the premises allegedly for security reasons, to prevent bullying and vandalism. The move evoked a storm of protests from both students and parents who said that cameras in the classroom were an unacceptable invasion of privacy. The Office for Protection of Private Data and the Ombudsman backed the protests, especially when it emerged that the school intended to keep the recordings for a certain period of time.
The Czech Republic and Indonesia on Tuesday signed an agreement to step up cooperation in the military sphere, in a move seen as an effort by Jakarta to diversify its sources of military assistance. The package signed opens the door to more business deals, an exchange of student officers, defense information and transfer of technology and data. The Czech Defence Ministry did not say how much Indonesia would spend on Czech military products, but disclosed that Jakarta aimed to buy several training jets from Prague.
The outgoing cabinet of Mirek Topolanek proposes to issue new bonds worth almost 133 billion crowns (an estimated 6 billion US dollars) to cover national debt security that the Czech Republic will have to pay in 2007 and 2008. A bill that would make this possible has already been presented to the Chamber of Deputies, which has been asked to give it the green light in its first reading.
The Communist Youth Association has decided to take the interior ministry to court over last month's decision to dissolve the small far-left group. The ministry banned the association on the grounds that it violated the Czech constitution by striving to replace the private ownership of the means of production with nationalisation. The Communist Youth Association says the ministry is violating its right to the freedom of expression and has filed a complaint.
The Civic Democrats will continue to lead government negotiations with the aim of holding early elections, the party's leadership decided on Monday. Mirek Topolanek, who was re-elected party leader this weekend, is expected to hold talks on the possibility of holding early elections with various parties this week. Latest opinion polls suggest that the Civic Democrats would win with 35.1 percent of the vote if elections were held this month.
The controversial Christian Democrat senator Jiri Cunek has announced that he wants to run for the post of party chairman. Mr Cunek recently made headlines when he called the eviction of a number of Roma rent defaulters the "removal of an ulcer". The Christian Democrats will elect a party chairman at their national conference in two weeks' time.
Dozens of Vietnamese entrepreneurs are testing the Czech market and working on forming chains of grocery stores, the Czech Business Weekly (CBW) reports. Former chairman of the Prague-based Association of Vietnamese Entrepreneurs Nguyen Duong tells the paper that the chains will open mainly in small towns and compete with international supermarkets as well as Czech grocery stores. Their aim is to fill the gap left by the two established retailers Delvita and Droxi who have announced their departures from the Czech market, CBW writes.